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Question Time Vote 2001
John Swinney
John Swinney

He's less than a year into his job as Scottish National Party Leader and although he will not be standing at the election but will sit as an MSP, John Swinney is about to face his toughest test.

After gaining 35 seats in the Scottish parliamentary elections, the nationalists will be looking to continue that success in the General Election and, if not defeat Labour, then at least ensure that they make significant progress towards that aim.

A politics graduate, Mr Swinney worked in Scotland's financial sector before entering Westminster as MP for Tayside North in 1997.

Despite his relative youth - he joined the party at the age of 15 and was elected national secretary at the age of 22 - Mr Swinney has long been a key thinker and strategist within the SNP and will be looking to bring these qualities to bear on the natonalists' campaign.

Perhaps his finest performance to date came in March as his party helped to inflict an historic defeat on the executive in a vote on the fishing industry.

He says the SNP must argue for all of Scotland and, while essentially fighting for the day when Westminster becomes a total irrelevance to Scotland, must still take the fight for independence to London if it is to succeed.

A selection of your questions:

Wouldn't the SNP be better now standing as a single-issue party on the policy of independence given that the SSP is fast becoming the main opposition to Labour in Scotland.
Scott Crawford, Glasgow

As an unemployed part-time student the college I currently attend is having its budget cut by 300,000 next year by the Scottish Funding Council. One of the reasons that has been given is that the college currently has too many part time students attending. What do the SNP hope to do to keep encouraging adults to re-join society and be re-educated.
John Hill, Edinburgh

What would be the SNP's attitude towards Nato in an independent Scotland?
Donnie, Glasgow

Does Mr Swinney believe that the majority of the SNP "supporters" fully understand the implications of independence and are not just patriotic Braveheart fans?
James McLeman, Edinburgh

How can any reasonable case for devolution be entertained when Scotland has a population significantly below the population of London?
Matthew Brunton, Sheffield

In order to achieve the quality of life and standards of services that Scottish people deserve would the SNP argue in the future for a "what you pay for is what you get" rise in income tax in order to provide it?
Kirsty Thomson, Glasgow

Would Mr Swinney consider 51% of the vote in favour of the SNP as a mandate to begin independence negotiations or 51% of the parliamentary seats. Would independence be automatic or would the settlement be put before the people in a referendum?
John Maguire, Edinburgh

With five out of six MPs bailing out at this election and the party leader not even deigning to stand, why should we vote for a party that patently holds the UK parliament in such low regard?
Andrew Thornbury, East Kilbride

Why should minorities in Scotland vote for a party with no minorities from Scotland representing it in parliament?
David Kellock, Livingston

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